Missing Images on this Blog

It may be something of an intransigent irony that my own fascination with philosophy, art, emptiness and entropy should return to haunt me in the way it has. I have received legal emails concerning copyright an image on this blog. I removed the image immediately after receiving two emails concerning the same photograph.

So – I have removed images that I did not make myself, that I had not attributed ownership of the artist, photographer, tattooist, graffiti artist, Neolithic cave-painter, architect, city planner, mathematician, physicist, random scribbler (etc.) directly. I removed hundreds of images which were used to improve the experience and overall qualitative feeling of this little project of mine. I celebrate art and artists, so I will refrain from any reference or use of any more artists or photographers (etc.) work or any more images, just in case it becomes legally problematic – ironic, isn’t it?

I will begin to write without any images or visual aesthetic of colour and form. I will adhere to words only. There will be many missing images across the 500+ posts in this blog but there is nothing I can do about that; I will remove orphaned HTML references to them when I find them. Other than that – this blog has been a personal project for the cultivation and refinement of ideas and I receive no financial or reputational benefit from it. I think, I write and I refine ideas here – that is all.

If you find references to images which are missing, please comment on the related post – I will tidy it up. Apologies for any inconvenience.

Fascism Oscillates

Fascism is to ideology what recurring bad taste and the tragic style of poor aesthetic choice is to fashion: cyclical, ill-advised but perhaps an inevitability of collective cognitive choices couched as they are in ever-diminishing historical frames of reference. As an entity and ideological artefact: fascism rises, makes a terrible mess of the world, departs or is vigorously disassembled by the disenfranchised and the victimised, is half-forgotten, and then rises again. Human cultures and minds are deeply entrained to cultivate continuity but also to expect difference. When fascism returns in a new suit with a flawless smile and rebranded social media presence, what is old is new again and there is an open-armed, unthinking or reflexive welcoming of the spectacle of difference and relative novelty of those recycled old narratives of insecurity and fear.

Commitment to strong borders and deep investment in a rhetoric of difference are atavistic throwbacks to an ancient cognitive method infused with, and informed by, visceral instinct and pure animalistic survivalism. Like any other neurosis, it is a worldview that has long since outlived its usefulness but endlessly recurs.

Strong borders are problematic as an issue, being that the world is (for whatever complex reasons) deeply troubled. The borders and fears we cultivate are not entirely unfounded but narratives of hate, fear and radical difference only serve to cultivate the conditions which generate the concrete conditions which create a necessity for those borders. This is a recursive psychological and strategic feedback loop which rapidly devolves into accelerating spirals of behavioural pathology and ideologically-infused entropy.

Masking fear as strength is an old art and in the rhetorical assertion of media statements provides a uniquely effective method of generating turbulence from which to extract political value. What is perhaps most interesting is the way that tribal psychologies adopt and adapt to the recurring spectre of fascism and other extreme ideologies without flinching or missing a beat. We are all in general, and as consequence of the endemic psychological gravity of enlightened self-interest, predisposed to think (and vote) locally but to endure the consequences Globally.

Ideology and Belief as Self-Propagating Information Pattern

The curious case of ideological belief is evidence enough that information systems and conceptual abstractions seek continuity and self-propagation through the human beings that adhere to these conceptual abstractions. Not only this, but beyond some improbably convoluted and confusing circumstance in which all systems of belief are in some peculiar macroscopic superposition and are all simultaneously correct, the One and Only Truth remains eternally elusive.

Instances of amygdala hijack are notorious. Having been exposed to (or enculturated by) strong appeals to emotion and visceral instinct, the human brain just can’t help itself and finds that enthusiastic replication of thought pattern, cognitive method and narrative is utterly irresistible. The abstractions of information that manifest as cultural, political and (variegated other) ideological belief systems have spent many thousands of years being refined and selected-for in an evolutionary sense. A symbiotic interdependence is particularly strong for a narrative creature that both defines itself and structures its reality around a delicate linear thread of information and procedural logic. Having been spirited away by the hypnotic narcosis and essential reflexive narcissism of narrative fascination, we are all so readily eager to surrender to a Stockholm Syndrome of adoration for our (very abstract) captors.

All human cognition, communication and community manifests through (and as) these complex tapestries of cognitive grammar and narrative meaning. We are so deeply intertwined and interdependent with (and defined by) our stories that in some cases people are willing to sacrifice their own lives for these symbolic abstractions. What a strange world this is where immaterial abstractions of symbolic meaning can lead people to all manner of terminal, illogical belief or irrational commitment. Such actions are behavioural assertions of identity and belief – it must be said – that provide continuity to the logic and cultural or cognitive information patterns at the cost of only a single node in their transmission mechanism; it is not difficult to discern that it is the patterned abstraction that wins here but it is the individual that feels empowered to act – an enigma!

Returning to the topic of there being no sense in which superpositions of abstract states of belief can reflect a scenario in which multiple contradictory truths are simultaneously verifiable, it seems very much that dissonance and aggressive disagreement as to the nature of truth is another method by which abstractions of patterned information successfully self-propagate. Rather than think of this as any kind of situation where conflicting ideological beliefs and conceptual abstractions will eventually resolve to a single indisputable truth, it is more useful to consider this an autonomous method by which emergent complexity self-propagates most efficiently through dissonance. Being that information and energy-processing systems have an autonomously-emergent orientation towards seeking algorithmically-optimal efficiencies of pattern encoding and encryption (and, perhaps, obfuscation), and further – it being a fact that the progressive metamorphosis of patterned concepts, cultures and technologies is rarely as rapid as when they are threatened (i.e. insecure) or in direct adversarial conflict, it is very likely an emergent and optimal solution for systems of thought, belief and faith to remain intractably dissonant with one another.

Not only does such dissonance provide a method for the exploratory and recombinatory development of new patterns and logical encodings, but it provides the entire (gestalt, holistic) orchestration of belief systems a method of global self-replication and accelerated development. A little like a sporting tournament in which the crucial factor is not the winning or losing of games so much as it is the persistent continuity and validation of a logic and grammatical rules-set of difference and competition. It is as though the individuation of a belief system, a person, a tribe or pretty much any discrete information and energy pattern as manifest at human scales can only continue to generate self-validation and continuity (of increasing complexity) when it is actively defining itself in contradistinction to something, or someone, else. Encountering external difference as entropy and novelty, each system of symbolic abstractions receives a boost to internal complexity and the whole rich, rippling interplay of resonance and dissonance generates the change and metamorphosis that allows the gestalt system of ideological abstractions to self-propagate.

This is a Gordian Knot. It is also completely autonomous to the extent that I am beginning to wonder what role or substantive effect our own decisions and free will can ever have. The moving world, having spawned ideological abstractions, moves on and this particular state of affairs may also find itself subject to the mischievously recursive logic of an Entscheidungsproblem.

Culture and Mind: Surface, Depth, Continuum

Cultural systems are information processing systems which, like emergent complexity in naturally-occurring energy-processing systems, tend towards autonomously seeking the most efficient methods of encoding information and replicating themselves. Human beings are in this sense very similar to cultural systems and it is indeed through their inner psychological and external behavioural practices and methods that cultural systems manifest and seek the open-ended metamorphosis of systemic change.

A general irrationality, unpredictability and discontinuity of thought that we should all instantly recognise as the essential inner turbulence and cognitive asymmetry of human experience is itself that interior surface of an unbroken flow of information and energy. Interior experience and external information exist on a continuum with very similar topological properties to a Möbius strip. At any notional cross-section or nodal point in the psycho-cultural network/graph there appears to be duality and separation between interior and exterior which entirely vanishes when viewed from a higher-degree of perspective or conceptual abstraction. The twist in the loop is distributed across the entire surface of encoded information and this is the key to both disentangling dualism and to understanding holism.

The existence and experience of a semi-isolated nodal self in this kind of broader gestalt or field is enigmatic. An individuated self appears to be a precondition for the intelligibility and aspirational (yet endlessly circular and unanchored) meaning of the narrative communication by which the cultural system itself manifests as integrated, interdependent network of information, communication and material artefacts. Simultaneously, the cultural system is only ever plausibly real or manifest as and through the vast numbers of adaptive and collectively volatile nodes (persons in which it is stored; in part – relatively static encoding in (and as) artefacts, and otherwise – dynamically recorded or represented in (and as) distributed patterns of communication and adaptively self-propagation through the participatory individuation and usefully random discontinuity (i.e. entropy) and emergent complexity of human minds.

Culture is the logical inversion of the human mind, as is technology

Ex Nihilo

Communication is an interesting problem. For all but the simplest of statements and assertions, we find ourselves so easily adrift and lost upon a tide of ambiguity and uncertainty. This is of course as much a feature as it is a bug in the veritable software and logic of information, grammar and linguistic inflection that we live through and that just as much, if not more, lives through us.

Explanation of complex concepts is generally only verifiably true (or at least – factual) where and when we can reduce those concepts to the equivalent of an elementary arithmetic. What happens when we seek to perform such pseudo-mathematical concision and abbreviation in, and with, language is of course that we merely displace the implicit complexity and ambiguity of communication to another location, we incur an entropic cost of loophole and vulnerability which is nowhere as obvious (or as plausibly deniable) as when it manifests in, and as – for instance – legalistic frameworks such as constitutional or taxation law. These loopholes are always there and exist as much due to the endemic and enigmatic fallibilities and mischievously recursive curlicues of logic itself as by any irreducible uncertainty native to language, cognition and the complexities of information transmission as communication.

I find that attempting to communicate advanced concepts through the relatively primitive building blocks of vocabulary, nuance and metonymy provides a fascinating challenge and problem-space to explore. It is all the more intriguing in that the most interesting entity, artefact or system to explore with words is probably (and perhaps inevitably) the act of communication itself. A conceptual art of seeking to capture the meaning of elusively complex and reflexively self-replicating patterns of sentience, cognition and conceptual communication is that simplest logic of one mirror turned to face another and through which an acuity of parallel planes exponentiates virtual depth towards infinity. There is, however, only one mirror and it manages by some beautiful impossibility to envelop itself, to leap out of naked structure into flowing rivers and dancing colours (or are they flames?) of meaning. How this occurs is often-enough approached reductively, systematically and mechanistically – a valid enterprise but I suspect it is necessarily also always only half the truth.

There is no authentic pointy-end or substantive conclusion to the vanishingly small narrative and bootstrapped metaphor expressed here. In attempting to capture that ephemeral infinity of unbounded paradox and systemic mischief that we all might feel is implicit and intuitively present behind the dancing shadows of meaning and syntax that pass into, through, and manifest as us, we might also think that this should (or at the very least – could) be an entirely explicable theorem. But it is not, and this is for that reason also how you can invent something, anything at all – really, out of nothing and emptiness. It is an interesting problem.

Bread Crumbs

It was the Roman poet Juvenal who who coined the phrasepanem et circenses” (bread and circuses/games) to represent the superficial appeasement of a population by procurement of foundational corporeal needs and entertainment. Providing food, shelter, basic security and a periodic cultural effervescence of various forms of spectacle and novelty seems for the most part to tick the boxes of a “happy and healthy” social system. The “happy” part of this equation is generally happy in regards to not dwelling on some of the bitter and intractable, material facts of life that the “healthy” axiom represents a partial and necessarily incomplete solution to.

If I was so inclined as to serially misdirect a population into docile entrainment and passively vivacious moments of cyclical festivity and symbolic conflict (so as to depressurise the aggregation of systemic entropy which might threaten political stability), a procurement of basic welfare and narratives of self-identity would prove of great utility. The problem here is, of course, that the emergence of a method of notional “bread and circuses”, of superficial narrative or filtering of a predominant cultural lexicon and conceptual vocabulary and its associated features of distributed cognitive control, is an autonomous feature of social systems which occurs anyway and without centralised guidance.

Attempting to shape the form and flow of complex systems to meet ideological or otherwise selfish needs is a little like attempting to modify or restrain the natural course of a river: a river will autonomously (and as a consequence of the material logic of complex systems) seek a path that is the most efficient and economical in regards to the use of energy. The emergence of, and potential for, political biases and their associated narratives and methods of cultural continuity are themselves in many ways autonomous and only superficially under any individual or group’s control.

Attempts to work against the natural tendency of information and energy-processing systems to resolve themselves to the most efficient form and flow is a method of generating entropy and turbulence. People and political parties often (unwittingly) generate such turbulence as a technique of self-validation; notice how bureaucracies and entrenched organisational hierarchies (on all scales of magnitude) have an uncanny tendency to produce precisely the kinds of disorder that self-validate their own continuing existence. In this way – political, ideological and social systems which have long ago outlived their use-by date succeed in providing precisely the forms of entropy, confusion and disorder that can be used to validate their continued existence. I leave derivation of specific examples for your own intelligence and intuition to decrypt from the various and diverse geopolitical facts of the world as they current exist.

The central concern of politics (and politicians) should be on seeking methods to allow social and cultural systems to quite literally find their own, best, autonomously emergent and self-propagating solutions. Unfortunately, as we have all been entrained to expect the spectacle of belligerent personalities and partisan interests engaged in intransigently wasteful bickering and argument, we tend to believe that this is “the way it has always been” and that this messy human world of ours is necessarily so. Only by opening up information, borders, minds, economies and political systems to change and the emergent optimal information and energy-processing solutions endemic to natural complex systems will we ever be able to successfully, sustainably and continuously ensure the individual, collective and collaborative navigation of that entropy with which our own minds have, in seeking to define themselves, shrouded the world in darkness and death.

We endlessly redefine ourselves through the catastrophes that we ourselves create and to such an extent that we fail to acknowledge that this distressed, insecure and anxious state of being and existence in the world is by no means necessary or inevitable. The same kinds of problems and patterns reoccur across this beautiful, troubled world of ours but we seem to learn little from the commonalities and regularities shared between them all. When systems of governance and control continuously and self-evidently seek little more than the continuity of their own patterned mechanisms through the creation of a dissonance and entropy that they are already well-suited (by ideological and psychological orientation) to manage, it becomes clear that these systems no longer serve the best interests of the people, the nations or the aggregate humanity they might profess to benefit. It is really not all that difficult to understand.

Ultimately – there is no best way, there are only ever better ways and a constant open-ended seeking of the iterative, procedural refinement of mature intelligence and compassionate wisdom. Less ego, more cogito.

Cyber Insecurity: Endless Breaches

Context: New Data Breach Has Exposed Millions Of Fingerprint And Facial Recognition Records: Report

There is an enigma here, far beyond the rank foolishness of keeping vast quantities of such sensitive data in an unencrypted format (see the linked article), there is a deeper problem. The more valuable any data is, the more incentive there is for it to be accessed illegitimately and it is a matter of recursive significance that secure biometrics are themselves the subject of this particular breach. As a matter of logical necessity and technical inevitability, security is only ever contingent and must always be remediated, reformed, amended and upgraded.

Observe a psychological (as much as an administrative, hierarchical) investment in an aspiration to completeness and closure of projects, products and systems which more closely resembles a fantasy of control than it does any approximation to the actual and intransigent complexity and implicit openness and systemic extensibility of material, technical, mathematical and logical reality.

Rethinking security and data protection is a matter of holistic, systemic reform which will likely prove anathema to the business models and conventions of governance within which it is currently addressed. This issue is symptomatic of a much larger organisational problem but it is in security that this pain of intractable systemic entropy is most acutely experienced.